Monday, November 10, 2008

last 2008 festival trip....part 2

Erica Bell, Development Directer; and Jennifer Pickering, producer...modeling their "Dancin'Dave" t-shirts!

The Sparrow Quartet

The Lake Eden Arts Festival quickly became one of my favorites as soon as I started attending a few years ago. Jennifer Pickering is the producer of this marvelous festival, and she had invited me to bring my business and I'm sure glad I took up her offer! It is the most eclectic festival on my schedule, along with being the dancin-est! (right up my alley...) It is held on a superb venue near Asheville, North Carolina; Camp Rockmont is a boys' camp and Jennifer actually grew up on the grounds. It is a magical place, the former home of Black Mountain College.

One thing that really attracts me to this festival is the fact that I am never familiar with more than a few of the musical groups on the lineup! It truly is a world-music festival, and one that features many different genres of music. It also had a marvelous Kids' Program, fine arts, a variety of dance, and even a trapeze. (I opt to NOT learn how to fly through the air with any kind of ease...)

On Thursday night attendees were treated to a steel pan jazz ensemble, some hypnotic world melodies with Rising Appalachia (which features two talented sisters who grew up attending LEAF and who are both are really fun to dance with...>g<), and Menage, a swinging roosty kind of rock band from the Asheville area. They were lots of fun to dance to as well.

On Friday I got to see and hear Leon Redbone! Talk about smooth.... He was one of the artists I was anxious to see; I have never had the pleasure of catching him live, and he did not disappoint...what a hoot. Scott Perry played some sweet blues and Martha & The Moodswingers were also a treat for we folk who love to dance. Plus, I caught a little of Donna the Buffalo, and they were greeted as usual by an energetic, dancin' crowd. Alot of the day I roamed around, diggin' some sweet old-time jams and visiting with customers, both old and new.

On Saturday the High Windy Band featured some fine traditional bluegrass; Terrence Simien & The Zydeco Experience had the Main Stage rockin'; and they were followed by Scythian, who I was very familiar with...this band takes a backseat to no band as far as energy displayed! They are a riot... I took in another swing dance set by Martha & The Moodswingers 'cause it would be hard to pass up such fine dance music and so many fine dance partners. My favorite act of the day had to be Robert Earl Keen, yet another act that I had been looking forward to....Robert and his hot band had everyone bouncin' around at the Main Stage! To close the night I took in the Legendary JC's, an R&B and Soul revue, followed by Dende & Hahahaes, a band that featured hot Brazilian Rhythms. It was quite the day...I slept well that night!

Sunday always starts out at LEAF for me in the Eden Hall, with a performance by the Warren Wilson College Folk Choir. My buddy Milt is the choir director and he does such a fine job finding folk music from around the world and directing his students in presenting it. It is always a LEAF highlight for me. This performance was followed with an hour of waltzing in the Dance Hall! Whew...damned near a dream come true. >g< It is such a pleasure to waltz with 6 or 7 different partners, all of whom know how to waltz and who love it as much as I do. After the waltzing I caught a set by Ben Sollee, which was another highlight. Ben is a master cellist, who plays with the Sparrow Quartet, and he puts on a marvelous solo set. After his set I got to work with my teardown operation and that went well as well. Then of course I had to catch Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet! For those not familiar, this group features Abigail, Ben, Casey Driessen, and none other than Mr. Bela Fleck. Super super music, no doubt. A great way to end a great festival.

I love this festival! I haven't hardly even touched on all of the music and/or musical genres presented. Plus, there is the lake that folks canoe, kayak, and swim in; there is also a zip-line that goes into the lake, along with a big slide called the Gulley Washer that also propels folks into the lake! The arts vendors and the food vendors are all of top-of-the-line quality, and the same goes for the attendees themselves. This is truly a first-rate family festival and I feel damned lucky to be able to attend both in May and in October. And along with all the other wondrous parts of this festival, Jennifer and her staff also hold a "Leaf in Schools & Streets" program that is an "educational outreach program matching artists with youth in local schools and communities for hands-on workshops, residences, interactive performances and mentoring". There is also LEAF International, "matching youth globally with instruments and mentors, connecting through cultural traditions, and empowering through music". (did I mention that I love this festival....?!)

Peace, David

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